Ask Max Jeganathan (January 13-17, 2020)

Hello, friends! (@Interested_In_Ask_RZIM, @Interested_in_Government, @Interested_in_Business)

We continue with a strong start to 2020 here in the Ask RZIM category by welcoming Asia-Pacific Regional Director Max Jeganathan to the forum.

@maxjeganathan leads a team of pioneering apologist-evangelists and speaks around Asia on how the Christian faith answers the deepest questions of life. He has spoken in banks, businesses, universities, government, and political institutions, as well as in debates and at churches and conferences. He is passionate about the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to transform lives.

Born in Sri Lanka, Max’s family moved to Australia as refugees in the mid 1980s. He has worked as a lawyer and a political and policy adviser in the Australian National Parliament, including time as an adviser to a senior Cabinet Minister and as Senior Social Policy Adviser to the leader of the Australian Opposition. Max was educated at the Australian National University and the University of Oxford.

Max lives in Singapore with his wife, Fiona, and their two young children.

Areas of Interest: The relationships between faith, politics, public policy, economics, and moral reasoning.

Max is one of the most thoughtful and clear communicators I’ve had the privilege of hearing, and I would encourage you to take advantage of having him on the forum this week!

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Hello, sir.

Say, I have this question about life and how we are supposed to live it on earth as ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. I do not mean any disrespect by asking this question, but I am still very curious how you will answer it.

The question is based on something Jesus said in the sermon on the mount.

My question is how is one to do this in the business world? I ask because this is actually one of Jesus commandments that I think I actually do okay with, but I am not a man of wealth so I do not have people asking me to do things for them or to give them money and whatnot because, well, I don’t actually have much money so this makes it easier for me to give people things because they are usually very small things and I don’t have people asking me for money because they know I don’t have much. Any clarification about this would be great.

Reference:

Matt. 5:40 And the one wanting to sue you and to take your shirt, let him also have your coat. 41 Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful and gracious question Jesse.

The words of Jesus in Matthew 5:40 are some of the most powerful ever spoken. You are absolutely right to think them through carefully and we should all think and pray very intentionally on what these words mean for us. I encourage you in this.

Often, when Jesus speaks in very practical terms but also using oratorical flourishes of repetition (as is the case here), he is telling us something that is both to be understood very practically but perhaps also to understand it in the context of our heart posture. I think this likely to be the case with this passage. The primary message to take away is the call to posture our hearts towards the needs of others. The groundbreaking nature of these words is that - both up until Jesus spoke them and since he spoke them - ‘love’ has too-often been understood as something (whether a feeling, heart-posture, sentiment, will or inclination) to be directed at those with whom we are positively predisposed or connected (e.g. family, friends, those in relationships with us). Jesus doesn’t refute this, but he radicalises it. He calls us to love not only those we want to love, but all people, even our enemies. His call to serve them and give to them in their need is not contingent on how they treat us.

So what does this look like in a business setting?

One mistake we should be careful to avoid is to become doormats. This would be a misread of Scripture. Just a few chapters later in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is clear that - because of the brokenness of people and the world - we need to be wise as serpents but simultaneously, as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:6).

So where does this leave us?
There is clearly a practical element of ‘doing’ baked in here. It’s perhaps best summed up by John Wesley in his famous words: “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”
It’s a pretty tall order, and one that I think we all struggle with if we try in our own strength.

Accordingly - and thankfully - God gives us a way to fulfil Wesley’s words and honour Christ’s command. It is to focus first on the posture of our heart through our relationship with Jesus. Through Him, our heart can be turned outwards to focus on the lives of others and their needs, regardless of how they treat us: to love them, to serve them, to help them and to give generously of whatever resources that God has given us to steward (money, time, effort, prayers, things). In a business setting - as in all settings - this must be done prayerfully and thoughtfully, seeking discernment from the Lord and His Holy Spirit. Necessarily, the complexities of life are such that the love of God may look different in different circumstances. However, the unchanging truth is more about what we are called to be than what we are called to do un any specific situation. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the more we become like Christ, the more naturally we will become the kinds of people for whom the behaviour Jesus calls us to (in Matthew 5:40 and throughout Scripture), is a natural outworking.

Our call is to walk humbly and joyfully with Jesus: getting to know him better and seeking his Holy Spirit in our lives and in doing so, becoming more and more like him. As we do, we needn’t worry so much about what we do, because who we are will increasingly result in the kinds of thoughts, words and deeds that increasingly honour Jesus (Matthew 7:17-18) and reflect the fruits of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

@maxjeganathan,

Thank you for answering my question. I love how you brought the idea of sanctification in along with listening to the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 10:6 is the verse I used to reconcile two things Jesus said. The first was, “Give to caesar what is caesar’s” and “You cannot serve two masters, for you must love the one and hate the other.”

And it is nice to see how you got at the question from the POV of the condition of our hearts because that is really what it is all about.

Thanks again for answering.

Thanks for your kind reply Jesse. Glad you found my reply helpful.
Blessings

Too kind :slight_smile: thanks Kathleen!

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